Teaching As Art

[Final] Conversations in Punk: Art within Intellectual Climate Change

March 19, 2017
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-Abstract:  The workshop will be an open symposium on art, art movements, and cultural paradigm shifts.  We will look at art work and the context in which it was made.

Details:  The workshop will examine three pieces of art, each in someway tangentially related to one another.  Each art work will be discussed for the length of one 45 minute session.  Slides will be used to show the artwork.  Within the slides will be other ideas, artworks, and images that I have curated to frame the 3 pieces being discussed.

-Limited to 10 Participants

-Requirements:  Come with respectful openness and a willingness to engage others in conversation.  No prior expertise are necessary.

Link to SURVEY form for feedbackAbove: Slide 1 of my workshop.

Above: Sampling of images, ideas, and technologies which informed the intellectual climate in which ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergere’ was created.

Overview:  The workshop started off a bit shaky.  I had presented a series of individual slides and a final slide showing the curated images all together.  At first, it definitely felt like a lecture and not so much like a symposium.  I went through each slide and was asked by the group to explain each image.  Even by the time that I got to my last slide of the collected images, I felt like I was doing most of the discussion alone that I was hoping would be done by the group.  The ideas which I hoped would come through with the collection altogether, I realized after would have maybe been easier to grasp or form if I would have done more easily digestible pairings of ideas.  In short, I should have taken a slower walk-through the images and the ideas that they invoked. I should have started with couplings being discussed first and the group of images and it’s general idea being discussed last.

The other thing I realized is how hard it is to get a group of individuals talking openly about a foreign subject.  After about 20 mins or so, the symposium quickly diverted away from the slides and moved on to topics of personal interest and relevance.  It was then that the discussion became interesting and disagreements started to happen.  The conversation started with Art, moved on to Art versus Design (and Craft), then to Technology as a catalyst for intellectual changes in perspective, and finally to what is art and what constitutes art.  In the end we all agreed that it was intent that constituted something to be art.  The conversation became more interesting at moments of self reflection and our approach to person work, what we make, and how we define ourselves.

In truth, the images were purely there to prompt discussion.  I was more than satisfied that conversation was taking place even though we weren’t talking about the slides specifically.  Often the slides functioned as supportive images for making claims about individual ideas.  I found that to be really successful.  I also think that people really learned from each others perspectives.  I don’t think we always agreed, but we definitely expanded our approaches to ideas for future discussions.

Critique/Advice:  The exercise was hugely informative in how  hard it is to teach and how to think on your feet.  My ideas didn’t come through in discussion liked I hoped.  I should take my group through the ideas in the slides slower in the future.Above: Symposium in process…Above: Sampling of images, ideas, and technologies which informed the intellectual climate of the ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ by Marcel Duchamp.


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[Final] Conversations in Punk: Art within Intellectual Climate Change

March 5, 2017
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Above: Possible webpage for course information on museum website

Theme:  The course is intended to examine the intellectual climate around a specific art piece.  The art piece will be examined intensively in reference to other artworks, music, literature, culture, politics, and sciences of and around the period in which it was made in order to frame the choices the artists made with the execution of their piece.  Courses will also examine the piece’s importance within the larger conversations in art.

Objective: The course is meant to be an introductory level course that will teach participants to look at art and become more visually literate for certain themes and ideas not completely transparent for all audiences.

Who: Every month the course will be taught and curated by a guest artist or art historian.  This expert will be encouraged to engage topics of interest to them and to stimulate conversation in areas of interest to the workshop participants.  Experts will be required to examine work in relation to topics of music, literature, culture, politics, and sciences; not art alone.

Duration: Each topic would last one month.  The consecutive month’s topic would be roughly based on the art, artists, or ideas presented in the previous course topic.  The courses would be tangentially related and participants would be encouraged to return for next workshop topic in the following month.  The topics would not be focused on a timeline.

Setting: The workshop would take place within a private gallery space.  The gallery would be curated and organized by the guest expert.  The expert will be allowed to select any number of pieces from the museum collection (not currently exhibit) to be viewed and discussed with the workshop participants.  The expert will also be encouraged to bring in auxiliary material which can be presented as they choose within the gallery space.  Within the gallery would be a large oval table to sit at most 15 people.  This is where the symposium style discussions would take place led by the instructor.

Feasible Alternative:  Since the above is my dream workshop, I propose an alternative to my workshop.  Instead, I propose a workshop broken into 3 sessions.   The sessions would be similar to my MoMA museum workshop I did last week.  Each session would focus on one art piece.  I would bring a series of slides with art, music, literature, culture, politics, and sciences to examine the piece being discussed.  I will chose 3 pieces of work which are tangentially related to each other in order to keep cohesion between sessions.

Below: Possible survey questions to improve workshop

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[Museum Exercise] Conversations in Punk: Art within Intellectual Climate Change

February 27, 2017
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Partner: Franklin Zhu

Franklin and I decided to go to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) this week.  The two of us each researched pieces that would allow us to do our workshops.  His workshop on technology in art and mine on art in context.  Franklin chose to build his work shop around Teiji Furuhashi’s Lovers and I chose Dieter Roth’s KarnickelKottelKarnickel (Bunny-dropping-bunny, published in 1972).  After viewing Teiji Furuhashi’s piece, we had a conversation about the work, the technology used, and why the specific technology (rotating projectors) was appropriately used.  Franklin had a really interesting take on technology in art.  For thesis, Franklin is making a dragon with technology which speaks a lot to the idea of technology and is mysticism.  As our discussion continued, we realized that the column of rotating projectors which Furuhashi used to create his phantasms is the equivalent to Franklin’s magic dragon.  There is a magic to technology in art and that magic occurs when technology is appropriately used and consequently no longer matters.  Technology becomes magic when only the poetry of the piece is important.

Above: Photos from the Teiji Furuhashi Lovers exhibit MoMA 2017

For my workshop, I chose Dieter Roth’s KarnickelKottelKarnickel which was part of the exhibit, ‘From the Collection: 1960-1969’.  I had randomly chosen the piece that I liked from the MoMA website that was indicated as currently being exhibited.  Little did I know, ‘From the Collection: 1960-1969’ was actually doing something really similar to what I was trying to achieve with my workshop.  The exhibit had work from art, architecture, and design spanning the whole decade and a bit after into the mid-70s, all displayed within the same gallery right next to one another.  The variety of work exhibited together created conversation between pieces and seemed to allude to the zeitgeist of the period.Above: Screenshot from the MoMA website exhibition page

For my workshop I brought a series of slides on my iPhone that I felt contextualized Roth’s process and approach to the creation of KarnickelKottelKarnickel.  Within the slides I included work Roth created before and after 1972, work from paralleling art movements of the time, historical events around 1972, and art that has been created since 1972 that seems to be in conversation with Roth’s work.  My workshop contextualized in a different way than the MoMA exhibit.  The exhibit indirectly contextualized through a general sampling of works from that period, whereas my presentation tried to contextualize a singular art piece through the work, thinkers, and events of the time.

Above: Slides from my iPhone slide show

After seeing and presenting within the exhibit, I wonder what parts of my workshop and what parts of the exhibition were done well and what could have been done better.  I really like the idea of zeitgeist in relation to the “intellectual climate” that I proposed for my workshop.  To me they run parallel to each other.   I think that my workshop would have benefited by having other forms of intellectual work: music, design, architecture, poetry.  Including other areas of creativity was something that I had spoken about in my original proposal, but had left out due limited research and an inaccessibility to experts in these respective fields.

Above: Photo collage of display cabinet with art, objects, posters, and garments from the late 1960s.  Dieter Roth’s KarnickelKottelKarnickel is displayed on a white shelf with other pieces.  

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Conversations in Punk: Art within Intellectual Climate Change

February 13, 2017
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I went to the Whitney this week, but I wasn’t able to attend the offered courses.  instead, I went to their online archive to look through the types of courses they are and have offered in the past.  The Whitney currently offers 3 courses, Decade in Focus: Painting in the 1980s, How to Look, and Crash Courses.  I really liked the Whitney’s approach to their offered curriculums.  It seemed to me that the Whitney Museum was focused on the idea of contextualizing art and artists within art movements throughout history.  

The idea to (re)frame artists within certain movements and ideas of the climate of the artist’s time really resonated with me.  It brought up this idea of conversation as a way for learning that I had discussed in my previous assignments.  Contextualization functions within this idea of conversation.  Conversation is not just the physical act of holding conversation.  Conversation is also the exchange of ideas between thinkers and umbrella-ing concepts that influenced them within the political, social, and scientific climates of their period.  

Above: A screenshot of the courses provided at the Whitney Museum currently.

 In my second assignment, I imagined my ideal curriculum for high school would have been a course load which was shared and exchanged with classmates through non-competitive labs and symposiums.  For that assignment, I believed that a holistic understand of learned material was necessary for exploration and the development of new ideas.  Science is not without Art and Art is not without Science.  Many of the greatest scientists were poets and vice versa.  For me, I think that is also true for understanding art.  So much art is pluralistic and references a multitude of ideas in a single instance.  All to often, we hear art discredited by those who claim to be capable of the replicating the same technique, but rarely do people understand the novelty behind the idea embedded within the work.  

Above: A rough sketch diagram of a potential course on Keith Haring and his Orbits of Influence.

My course would be structured around artist retrospectives or art movements.  It would not only teach students how to look at art visually by understanding visual language that the artist uses, but it would also examine the artist or art movement in reference to other ideas of the time.  For artists we would examine orbits of influence: mentors, inspirations, those they influenced, poets, musicians, science, politics, as well as the type of canonized art forms that were accepted at the time.  For art movements, we would examine paradigm shifts within canonized ideas, how certain artists functioned as catalysts for those paradigm shifts, and how those ideas influenced other areas of political, social, and intellectual thought.  

Courses would be a series of ongoing weekly tours focusing on a different artist or movements.  Tour guides/ instructors with visit current art on display or current exhibits happening at the Whitney.  The tour guides would bring a catalog of work reference with them as research material for the students.  The catalog could be physical documents, other artwork, biographies, or a slide show with relevant content.  

Above: Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1865.  The stoic, matter-of-fact gaze into the onlooking viewers eyes caused outrage within the art community of the time.  It was a pivotal moment in subject matter within art history.  Who influenced Manet?  What conversations did he engage?

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February 5, 2017
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I had this amazing teacher in high school, Mr. Beuschlein.  He was my “teacher” for physics and calculus, but was much more of a mentor than a teacher.  In class we never really seemed to have a syllabus.  We would maybe do 20 minutes of work on the ‘subject of that day’ and then quickly move to tangential subjects and labs for the rest of the time.  We always learned what we “needed” to learn for the class, but more importantly, we saw how everything fit together.  We would talk politics, art, science, literature etc; you name it we discussed it.  I was really quiet back then. I would sit and listen to the others in my class, often in admiration of their passions and the eagerness of my teacher to encourage them with conversation.  Everything seemed interconnected.  We might be talking about electromagnetism at the beginning of class, but by the end, we were looking into similar forces in biology or chemistry, deriving relevant formulas, and if we had time, quickly researching relevant applications of the subject before class ended.  I don’t know if our class structure was intentional or if Mr. Beuschlein was easily distracted; regardless, the structure of his class is one that I wish was applied to all my classes during high school.

In retrospect, high school was the time for exploration and discovery in ourselves.  We didn’t know what we wanted to do before high school, and few of us knew what we wanted to do when we graduated.  Mr. Beuschlein’s class facilitated this necessity of self exploration.  

Extending the practice of how I learn (from the previous assignment), I would like to create a curriculum that is based on the idea of conversation/communication as a necessary practice to obtain knowledge. Critical conversation and critical listening between students, instructors, and subjects will be encouraged to promote exploration into hybrid fields of interdisciplinary practice as they move into their junior and senior year and (hopefully) college. In theory, the program will provide the language, tools, and applications necessary for conversation, collaboration, and sustained engagement.

The course structure will be based on a 10 class periods, centered around daily symposiums with practical labs. Symposium and lab will count as 2 courses leaving students with 8 classes chosen based on individual capacity and curiosity. Out of these 8 courses, students will be required to take 4 humanities courses and 4 math/science courses for balance. In these symposiums and labs would be cross disciplinary discussion and research. It is not necessary for instructors to have knowledge in all areas of study. Instructors will stand in as catalysts for conversation and curiosity. Symposiums and practical labs will take place between 10 students with similar and dissimilar classes. Their will be no hierarchy between participants. Students will explore tangential subjects through conversation and be encouraged to ask all questions they see relevant.

Prerequisites will be based on a course to course basis. For example, students interested in taking courses in calculus ii, must have previously completed calculus and before that, pre-calculus. Students interested in taking higher level courses in any respective subject must take the necessary foundation courses for that subject or show a capacity of competent knowledge.  (Physical wellness will be explored through after school extracurriculars.)

The main objective is to prepare students to approach the world with a cross disciplinary, collaborative practice, and to encourage lateral thinking between subjects in order to inform independent, unique ideas. Students will learn together and though each others’ interests, not limited to the scope or constraints of what offered courses can provide.

Above: David Altmedj, ‘Wave’, 2011, Plaster. I like David Altmedj’s approach to making. His work always seems to question process. His pluralistic approach to making creates opportunity for new forms and ideas. Is this a painting or a sculpture?

Above: Inspired by the idea of a semi-lattice, symposiums and labs would provide a more holistic way of learning and a pluralistic approach to problem solving. What one student can’t learn alone, they can learn through conversation with the group.  Diagram should be read bottom-up.

Full Disclaimer, this is not a fully developed idea.  It is a proposal on how we could restructure education and our approach to knowledge.  The courses offered are not fully developed nor is the scope to how this would be accomplished.  

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January 29, 2017
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Conversation is an essential component to the way that I learn.  Without conversation the growth of my curiosity and motivation are stunted.  I believe that it is the responsibility for the expert, or *teacher*, to provide the tools, language, and motivation to encourage learning.   If the tool is the material being taught, then language is the method for questioning and the vehicle to develop curiosity and individual exploration.  From a young age I realized that for me, regardless of how interesting the material (or tool) was,  if I did not have the words to articulate my curiosity or confusion, I would be lost at how to engage further and would quickly lose interest in the subject matter. Simultaneously, an overview of the material’s applications should be presented to inspire by contextualizing the material within its larger system.  Without context, the tools being taught often feel like an end in themselves and not the means for greater exploration.  For instance, if you are only taught that the sine function is a trigonometric function that can be used to find the hypotenuse of a triangle, you will probably find that you will rarely need to find the hypotenuse of any triangle and quickly lose interest.   When I learn, I need to be presented the system and all its components.  I need to know the multitudes of how a tool can be used.  I need to know that the sine function is used in combination with other functions, that it is a necessary formula for the architecture of a building, that the sine curve is used to describe oscillating sound waves, and that with it I can calculate the length of my shadow on a sunny day etc.  

There is a feedback mechanism with in my system of learning.  After applying and practicing/playing with the material presented to me, I need constructive dialogue to move forward and continue engagement.  Without constructive criticism, I will lose interest.  I need a platform to jump from in order to go higher.  I need to hear what I did well and what I did poorly.  Most importantly in conversation, I need to hear how I can improve.  Regardless of whether I succeed or whether I fail, I learn.  However, without continued conversation my system dissolves, my curiosity lessens, a my understanding suffers.
As for the material itself,  I am a hands on visual learner.  Simply sophisticated diagrams go a long way and real world labs make an impression.  You can’t just tell me that gravity works equally on all objects.  I need to see a tennis ball and egg drop at the same time from the same height, and smash and hit the ground at the same time.  I need my hands in the material.  Give me an egg and I will throw it to see what happens.  

I also think that it is import to recognize how I receive information, and how one becomes an *expert*.  I like to think of the rhizomic model proposed by Deleuze and Guattari when I think how I understand what I know.    In order to understand, we siphon information from experts, peers, and outside sources.  Our knowledge grows when we intersect and have conversations with these individuals.  It is important to stress that the titles of expert, student, peer, and other are interchangeable.   No matter how removed a subject maybe, it will influence our approach and understanding during any conversation.

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